CTNext awards $34,000 to Connecticut Startups

CTNext a state backed entrepreneurship program recently awarded $34,000 to some of Connecticut’s best up and coming startups at their March 19th Entrepreneur Innovation Awards. The three companies that came away with top prize of $10,000 were:

B2 Products a Tolland based company which is developing a lever-operated tourniquet to stop blood loss.

Bioarray Therapeutics who is developing a test to determine a cancer patient’s responsiveness to early stage chemotherapy out of New Haven. 

TotalHousehold out of Bethel grabbed the last top prize with its payment processing and lead generation IT platform.

You can find the whole story online at the Hartford Business Journal.

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March 2015 | Medical Devices Recap

March’s Medical Devices event was a record setting, high energy meet up where investors and entrepreneurs gathered to shake things up in the Medical Devices industry. While both keynote speaker and company presentations were solid, networking was of high concern for the 100+ individuals who attended. Pre- and post-event conversations were a buzz and the cafeteria of host venue Medtronic & Covidien Group,a did not empty until well after 8:00pm.

Presenting Companies:

Three strong Rising Entrepreneurs presented at this months CVG event in front of a panel of experienced and knowledgeable investors. After each presentation investors had the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback while audience members jotted comments on Pitch Feedback Cards. Feedback cards were distributed to the presenters during the post-program networking hour.

  • Avitus Orthopaedics – Presented by Neil Shah, Co-Founder & CEO, is on a mission to develop new orthopaedic technologies that will improve clinical outcomes while decreasing healthcare costs compared to current procedures and devices. Currently, the company is developing a novel surgical device that will enable surgeons to use gold standard autologous bone graft material. According to Shah the large market problem is simple; spinal fusion procedures cost $550,000 a year and bone grafts rack up an astounding $2.8 billion in expenditures with no bone grafting solutions meeting all then needs of surgeons, hospitals and patients. The Avitus Harvester is the proposed solution – a bone graft harvesting devices that will improve the patients outcome while deliver gold standards to surgeons and increasing margins in the hospitals. This technology is minimally invasive and cost effective. The Avitus Harvester is still patent pending. Watch Neil’s Presentation here.
  • GestVision, Inc. – Presented by Wendy Davis, Founder & CEO, is commercializing a point of care diagnostic test for preeclampsia. According to Davis every 10 minutes a mom-to-be almost dies from preeclampsia premature infants are being delivered three times as often due to the condition. According to Davis 40% of pregnant women may show preeclampsia symptoms which will lead to 15% of them delivering a premature child. GestVision’s solution to this is the GestAssured test which is a simply urine test that can be taken at the doctors office where results can be dawn in no more than one minute. This test has proven to be 85% accurate. Currently there is no definitive way to diagnose preeclampsia, GestVision hopes to end the dangerous cycle of diagnosing women who may show symptoms but who do not actually have the condition. Watch Wendy’s Presentation here.
  • Woven Orthopedic Technologies – Presented by Ilana Odess, Founder & CEO, leverages a unique biotextile to enhance performance in fixation procedures. According to Odess the current means of fracture treatment is either by brace and cast or by surgery. In the case of surgical screw engagement it is not uncommon for screws to become loose or dislodged. Woven replaces traditional screw hardware with bone-like interlacing fibers that graft into the bone over time and create a stronger, load sharing solution. Watch Ilana’s Presentation here.

medical devices for blog

Presenting Companies presented in front of a panel of the following experienced investors:

Immediately following the entrepreneur presentations, keynote speaker David. D Wang, Group Vice President of Business Development, Strategy, and portfolio management at Covidien & Medtronic, talked about the “Past, Present and Future of Investment in Medtech.” According to Wang the healthcare sector is becoming more and more specialized, therefore what pays off for investors as well as entrepreneurs is understanding the diseases which are in the spotlight. He noted that paying attention to what the pharmaceutical sector is doing is crucial to making waves in the medical devices space  as well as looking at potential partners as people who want to make a big difference in the industry.

“Health tech is not equal to devices and molecules… innovation is both local and global.”

We hope you will join us next month at the ACG Connecticut Northeast Consumer Products Conference at Two Roads Brewery.

Present & Showcase at an upcoming event:

Interested in presenting as a Rising Entrepreneur at on of our future networking events? Click here to apply.

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Health Innovation Hub 2015 – Apply

Springboard’s Health Innovation Hub is a collaboration platform advancing the growth of women-led digital health and life science companies with access to sources of funding, partnerships, and HIH-logoadvisors.

Seeking women-led companies with a track record of milestone achievement. Health Innovation Hub is a location- and stage-agnostic but seeks solutions within several themes:

  • Digital Health Drugs & Diagnostics
  • Reducing cost of care
  • Improving patient outcomes
  • Increasing patient adherence
  • Clear unmet need
  • Robust supporting scientific data
  • Differentiated and reimburseable

Deadline to apply – March 11

Learn More | Download the 1-pager | Apply

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LiquidPiston Raises $1.1 Million of VC

Bloomfield, Conn. – LiquidPiston, a Bloomfield-based developer of rotary internal combustion engines based on a thermodynamic cycle, has raised $1.1 million more of venture capital, according toLiquidPistonLogo a new filing by the company with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

LiquidPiston’s technology increases load efficiency to above 50%, reducing fuel consumption by as much as threefold over conventional engines, according to the company. In 2004, LiquidPiston won the MIT $50K business plan competition (now called the $100K) and received an SBIR award from the Army in 2007. LiquidPiston built its first firing engine prototype around three years ago. Investors in the company include Northwater Capital and Adams Capital Management.

View Filing | Visit LiquidPiston Site


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Datto acquires Backupify

Norwalk, Conn., – Datto, a preferred provider of cloud-based backup, disaster recovery and business continuity solutions announced it’s acquisition of Backupify a leading provider of cloud-to-cloud backup and recovery solutions for software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. The combined technologies will create the first complete protection platform for business data and solve problems that have hindered back up providers in the past. The terms of the transactions were not disclosed.


“At a time when data lives in and flows freely from on-premise servers and systems, virtualized environments and third-party clouds, data protection and recovery takes on a whole new meaning,” said Austin McChord, founder and CEO of Datto. “Backupify provides must-have solutions for companies entrusting their data to SaaS applications, and our team will help complete the vision of creating a Total Data Protection Platform that extends across a company’s entire digital ecosystem, as well as expand to new global markets, including Europe, Asia, and Latin America.”


Read the full press release here.

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Investments in Marijuana – “Sinful” or “Socially Responsible?”

In early January the venture capital community was rocked when a venture firm run by Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and Facebook, invested millions in marijuana company Privateer investing-cannabisHoldings.

While it has become increasingly apparent that the financial health of the marijuana industry is strong, the majority of the public pension funds are still struggling with its ethical foundation. The question at hand is whether the “pot market” is considered a sin industry or if the marijuana movement can be tucked neatly under the healthcare umbrella thus making investment a social responsibility. 

Historically, big investors have shied away from sociably questionable deals and are quick to walk away from accounts that turn sour. For example, private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management has been attempting to sell the Freedom Group since the 2012 Newtown Elementary massacre. Freedom Group is the manufacturer of the Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle, the weapon used in the shooting. Big banks also air on the side of caution and players like JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America continue to refuse accounts to marijuana companies.

The hesitation of big money has not deterred all in the investment community as Geoff Lewis, partner of Mr. Thiel, argues that the industry has been exceedingly misunderstood. He says that the investment in Privateer Holdings was first and foremost a business decision and while the jury is still out on the social implications of investing in marijuana, he believes that it is “certainly not socially irresponsible.”

In Connecticut, the Mohegan Tribe has become interested in the marijuana market in order to sustain its government in an era of increased casino competition. According to Morgan Fox, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates for legalizing pot, tribal leaders have an opportunity to exploit what the federal government has failed to capitalize on. The growing and distribution of marijuana on tribal land could “bring people in from the entire region, (people) who may not want to travel as far as Colorado or the other states where marijuana is already legal.”

While it is uncertain to say whether big monies will jump into marijuana investment any time soon, it is important to realize that smaller investment deals are being made nationwide. In 2014 legal marijuana businesses raised $104 million in 59 deals. For the time being the marijuana industry will continue to feel the aches of ebbing and flowing investment interest.


Read more about Ethical Questions of Investing in Pot from the New York Times

Read more about Mohegans Review of Pot as an Economic Opportunity from the Hartford Courant


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Developer of Keytone Supplements Raises $2M

Bloomfield, CT - Cognate Nutritionals, a Bloomington-based developer of ketone supplements for brain health, has raised $2 million in a round of venture capital, the company disclosed in a new filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Cognate offers “medium-chain triglycerides” naturally found in coconut oil, to increase ketone production and help brain function. Typically, a decrease in the brain’s ability to utilize glucose often occurs due to aging as well as disease, according to the company.

“40+ years of peer-reviewed scientific research has proven that ketones are the brain’s only alternative fuel source. As people age or suffer from neurological decline, the brain becomes less able to utilize glucose, its usual source of fuel. Brain cells will then begin to decline and die. Typical diets generate low levels of ketones that are unable to adequately supply these energy deficient brain cells. However, when you raise the body’s ketone levels sufficiently, the brain will always fully utilize them, thus providing support to those same cells that were in decline.

The unique formulation of Fuel For Thought® provides medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), naturally found in coconut oil, to quickly increase ketone production and help to keep the brain supported in performing its many functions. Like a hybrid car that easily switches to a second source of good energy when the original runs out or is low, the more ketones you regularly have, the more consistent brain support you’ll enjoy.” – Cognate Nutritional’s Website

View the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commision


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Crossroads Venture Group Appoints Mary Anne Rooke as Executive Director

For Immediate Release

January 14, 2015 – Hartford CT – The Crossroads Venture Group (CVG) has appointed Mary Anne Rooke as its Executive Director to succeed former Executive Director Elizabeth “Liddy” Karter, who led CVG for four years.

“Crossroads Venture Group is incredibly pleased to announce Mary Anne as its new Executive Director. Mary Anne has been an active leader in Connecticut’s investment and entrepreneurial Mary Annecommunity through her prior leadership roles as Chairman, President and Managing Director of Angel Investor Forum, Executive Director of UConn’s Technology Incubation Program at the Storrs, Avery Point and Farmington campuses, and as Executive-in-Residence for Connecticut Innovations. This, along with her prior experience in Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial community and public policy advocacy work in California and Connecticut, positions Mary Anne to lead CVG as it embarks on its next chapter of growth,“ said Nat Brinn, President of CVG Board of Directors and Principal at Vital Venture Capital LLC.

Mary Anne is the founder of Rooke & Associates, a boutique management consulting firm. Previously, she held leadership positions in multiple industries ranging from start-up ventures to Fortune 500 companies in both publicly owned and privately held sectors and has served on boards and commissions in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Connecticut. Through her management consulting, angel investor, and startup activities, she has worked closely with the entrepreneurial communities on both the east and west coasts of the US. Mary Anne is a mentor and advisor with tech startups in Yale Entrepreneurial Institute (YEI), UConn and also in the ASTIA and the Pipeline Fellowship networks for women-led startup ventures.

“Mary Anne’s unique experience at both ends of the investment process, as an angel investment leader and as an entrepreneur, has positioned her to lead CVG in bringing the investment ecosystem together to support CT’s emerging startup companies,“ said Elizabeth “Liddy” Karter, former CVG Executive Director and current Managing Director at Enhanced Capital Partners.

“It is an honor and privilege to be appointed the Executive Director of Crossroads Venture Group,” said Mary Anne Rooke. “My goal is to expand CVG’s core network of actively engaged resources in order to fuel more capital investment for our fast-growing entrepreneurial ecosystems in the Northeast region.”


About Crossroads Venture Group:

The Crossroads Venture Group is a professional organization that is committed to connecting leading investment professionals with high-growth emerging companies. CVG’s mission is to assist the development of high-growth enterprises through the promotion of capital formation in Connecticut.

Kaitlyn Mode
Marketing Manager – CVG
860.289.0878 x338


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January 2015 | Healthcare IT Recap

January’s event was full of transitions and excitement as Mary Anne Rooke, the new Executive Director of CVG, dove head first into the execution of a successful first meet-up. Unlike previous monthly events, the Healthcare IT meet-up featured a new program structured around a re-organized pitching segment called the Pitch Pit! for blog

The Pitch Pit:

Three successful growth companies were selected to present in front of a panel of highly experienced investors and live audience. Each company was given five minutes to pitch and then allotted five more minutes for Q&A with the audience and feedback from the investor panel. Investors also used a Connecticut-based web tool called Test My Pitch in order to give detailed remarks and advice to each of the presenting companies. Audience members filled out physical comment cards which were later distributed to the presenters. The following companies presented in the pit:

  • Bioarray Therapeutics – Presented by Marcia Fournier. Bioarray is tackling the problem associated with the large number of patients unresponsive to taxane chemotherapy. According to Bioarray roughly 75% of patients who take taxane, the first line of therapy, do not respond to the drug. Instead then, of sending patients through a cumbersome and exhausting trial and error of other drugs in line Bioarray aims to halt  therapy that will not work for these pitch 3pitch 1patients, before they even start. According to Bioarray, clinical studies can classify non-responders upfront, and therefore increase the rate of improvement by 68%. Bioarray is not quiet ready for commercialization but are expecting to launch within the next two years.
  • Diameter Health – Presented by Eric Rosow. Diameter Health is in the business of digitization and standardization of medical data with financial incentives. They aim to bring scalable, cost-effective medical apps to market that will transform healthcare through clinical intelligence. One platform with multiple solutions, integrated for those involved in the healthcare space.
  • Inbox Health – Presented by Black Walker. Inbox Health was inspired by the simple fact that “Nobody knows the price of healthcare services,” all stemming from mysterious pricing, inconsistent reimbursements, illusive affordability, complex benefit packages. The direct result of the confusion surrounding healthcare costs leaves patients scrounging for money and doctors unpaid. Inbox Health aims to revolutionize the transaction process associated with healthcare. With a mind to make collecting payment and distributing bills seamless for the physician and submitting payments easier for the patient, Inbox Health intends to be the next major app to drive the financial side of healthcare.

Immediately following the Pitch Pit keynote speaker Allen DeGraw, CEO and Founder of Post-n-Track, took to the podium to discuss the impacts of IT has on the healthcare industry. As many panelpitch 2would guess, Allen noted that the healthcare industry is a great place to be right now, and according to him some of the major drivers in healthcare are cost optimization, competition, reform and consumerism. As far as trends go, big data, the cloud, and mobile applications are among some of the top leading trends in the industry – all tech related. That being said, Allen touched upon some of the greatest areas for market growth and investment, some of them being business intelligence and anayltics, systems management, database, and business applications. Of course, even as IT and healthcare become closely linked and changes in the industry become more apparent and accepted, some of the biggest unsolved problems still include cost and quality of systems.

Thank you again to Mary Anne Rooke for helping us plan and execute a successful Second Thursday Presentation!



Congratulations to Gerald Michaud, President of Horizon Technology Finance, winner of this month’s “Ticket for Two” Innovation Summit giveaway! You can win tickets at the next CVG meet-up event by dropping your business card in the raffle box!

Click here to view more photos from the event!

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Liddy Karter Steps Down – Her Thoughts on the Appointment of Mary Anne Rooke

“As former executive director I greatly enjoyed helping the organization achieve the many goals that were established, when I joined, in Jan 2011. Some of these goals included Liddyincreasing the amount of regular activity in venture financing, increasing the number of investors directly involved in CVG, and most importantly increasing the amount of venture funding flowing to companies in our region. Crossroads Venture Group is now offering regular monthly events to highlight great local companies, professional services companies and investor groups. Of the six leadership positions at CVG five are directly held by investors. This is a testament to the value placed on CVG by investors as a place to find investments and to network with a community of likeminded investors and deal professionals. The most objective measure of our success is Connecticut’s ranking of 9th in venture dollars and deals invested per capita in the nation. This is crucial considering venture capital investments contribute directly to job growth and economic vitality.”

“Now is the perfect time to pass the baton to Mary Anne Rooke as new executive director of Crossroads Venture Group. Mary Anne has tremendous experience in venture investing both as an entrepreneurial CFO, an angel investor, and expert in venture funding. She has deep local contacts from her work as president of Angel Investor Forum, Manager of the TIP Program at UConn, and from her involvement with CT Innovations. As I continue to build our investment portfolio at Enhanced Capital CT, it is very important to me that CVG continues to grow. I am excited to see local companies continue to grow and by the role the CVG is playing to bring the investment ecosystem closer together.”

- Liddy Karter, Former Executive Director of Crossroads Venture Group

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